Laurie Notaro Writes a Handy Manual for Her Husband ... In Case She Dies Before He Does

Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she puts together a guide for her husband in case she kicks the bucket before he does.

After a close call with the Big Sleep yesterday, my thoughts went not exactly to my own life, but to that of my husband's. What would happen to him if I died?

Yes, there would be a short period of mourning followed by a longer one of jubilation and buoyant celebration of freedom, but what exactly does that freedom mean? It means that on any given day, my husband stands on the brink of expiration numerous times a day and would no doubt succumb without the proper supervision.

Therefore, with the help of several of my long-time married girlfriends, I have created A Handy Manual for a Widower, My Husband. I wrote my intro with some personal touches, but feel free to pen your own, filled with your individual inspirations.

Dear Husband;

If you're reading this, the inevitable has happened. I've stuck a knife into the old toaster you told me not to buy, which shot sparks on to the dishtowel that you said I keep too close to the stove.

The dishtowel then burst into flames, igniting one of the expired coupons sticking out of a drawer (the one you enjoyed reminding me to clean out). The fire then spread to the rest of the house, killing me because I'm on Ambien, which you told me to stop taking because I was getting too "aggressive with my snacks in bed."

Well, you don't have to worry about snorting Cheetoh dust anymore in your sleep. You have found this note because I am dead, "death by misadventure," and you are finally going through the motions of rifling through my things so you can throw it all away because I'm guessing your lady friend requires some additional space in well, frankly speaking, my house.

NOT SO FAST, my friend. I have a couple of words of advice for you.

You may not know it, but take it from me, a dead person, that your mortality is as fragile as a piece of cheese bread that has fallen apart in an electrical appliance.

First a few common-sense things that you probably already know, but a dead wife has to cover all bases:

1. Never put a fountain in the front yard unless you just joined the mob.

2. When your next wife has a birthday, it is not enough to invite people to a party. You actually have to throw one.

3. Do not let your second wife wear my clothes.

4. Go back out to the garage and move my goddamn clothes back into the house. Now.

5. Never do your Heidi Klum impression out of this house. No one will ever get it when you say, "That dress makes me sad," and sends an otherwise terrifying message. You sound like you swallowed a chunk of banana whole and are about to throw two small children into an oven.

6. Bring your sleep apnea machine with you on dates. Yes, I know showing up with a suitcase full of medical equipment might be a deal breaker, but so is waking up next to a corpse.

7. Just to reiterate: Theoretically, yes, you're right: you are clean after a shower, but again, that cleanliness does not translate to the towel, especially after you have used it 20 times.

8. Never again list watching every single episode of Law and Order on Netflix as an "honor."

9. Keep the food in the basement in the basement. You will so eat something that expired in 2009 if it's the bona fide Apocalypse (Anderson Cooper will let you know when that is).

10. You have no street cred. If you want a second date, don't say things like street cred. Ever.

11. Don't eat the left over Mexican food you forgot was in the trunk yesterday when you find it today. Just because opening a hot trunk feels like opening an oven doesn't mean they share the same interest in not incubating botulism.

12. Never clap at skunks in the garage to "scare them away."

13. If the milk has crust on the drinky part, go to your Drink Plan B, and when your fruit juice is bubbly like soda, chew something tangy-flavored to generate saliva (if you are really that thirsty).

14. You cannot wait out the smell in the refrigerator. The house will eventually be nothing but stink and rubble. The fridge will win. Every time.

15. If you can put your thumb through a piece of fruit, don't bite into it, although there is nothing funnier than watching you eat rotten food.

16. Which reminds me! If your back starts to hurt, unbutton your pants. Your waist hasn't been a 32 since you were in high school.

17. You blamed too much on Ambien Laurie and I let you because I needed to let her legend grow.

18. Never go into the attic. First, you are too fat to fit through the trap. Second, there is NOTHING up there that you need. Third, there are monsters up there.'

19. Drinking soda is not the same as drinking water. Your pee should not be the same color as a Ticonderoga pencil.

20. I lied. Lambskin is from lambs.

21. When your cousin's kids send you a graduation announcement, no, it isn't "just to let you know."

22. Despite the fact that it could feasibly work with the right positioning, thou shalt not ever clean the fireplace with a leaf blower.

23. If you discover your date is sneaking a bottle of water into the movie theater, do not put your hands on your hips and demand to know "her plan for when you get caught. In fact, SHOW me the plan!"

24. Ovaries are not Jazz Hands. They cannot flutter and block unwanted things on demand, no matter what the Frat Boy says.

25. If you want a lady to love you, call Angelina Jolie's arms "pipe cleaners" again.

26. If you can toss the word "diaspora" into a conversation, back that smartness up by remembering to take out the trash (and remembering to bring it back in before you have to bring it back out again, despite the fact that you walk inches from it every time you leave the house).

27. You should not laugh when you next wife accidentally takes a dog pill and you are laughing so hard when you call poison control that the operator thinks it's a prank call.

28. So how did this work out? "I don't care. That's fine. That's fine. My next wife will think my story of reciting Jane's Addiction's 'Mountain Song' in my high school drama class is cool. Even if I didn't get to use the element of fire like I asked. She'll still think it's cool. Even though she will be way too young to know who Jane's Addiction is."

29. Remember when you said that if you ever got a chance to send a message from beyond it would be "Frank Burns eats worms"? I'm going to try that, too. You will know that I'm watching you every time you hear, "Can I take your order?"

Stay tuned for new adventures with Laurie Notaro, and catch up on a few classics in any of her books including The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life,It Looked Different on the Model, I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies), There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and An Idiot Girl's Christmas at Changing Hands, on Amazon, or through her website.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laurie Notaro